Is Our Online Digital Media Safe?

I hear ya… You want to know who Mari is. I’ll have a proper intro up in the next day or so. Stay tuned! -DZ

youtube.gifSeveral news organizations are reporting that YouTube has wiped nearly 30,000 videos from its site after a Japanese audit fingered the clips for copyright infringement. Aside from the rights management concerns, this brings up an interesting issue for those who upload and store content on remote servers: When content isn’t stored locally, it isn’t under your control…

In this case it may have been perfectly reasonable for YouTube to remove 30,000 files, but these situations won’t always be black and white. There’s a growing trend towards moving our content off local devices — online word processing applications, photo storage sites, even under-development Network DVRs. While remote storage has its benefits, there are also disadvantages that shouldn’t be ignored. The ability for providers to delete files at will is one of them.

Suppose a service provider deletes files because your account has been inactive. Or suppose a provider deletes files that it decides may be harmful to others. Companies are well within their rights not to publish certain user-generated content, but most material won’t be caught until after it’s uploaded. In those cases, is a provider obligated to notify the user when removing content and return a copy of the file for local storage? For example, Flickr’s Terms of Service state Yahoo has “the right to remove any Content that violates the TOS or is otherwise objectionable.” Who defines objectionable and will I be notified before they eradicate my photographs?

7 thoughts on “Is Our Online Digital Media Safe?”

  1. I treat YouTube and Flickr and other similar services as SHARING services, not storage services. They are a place for me to show my content to others. If I lose my hard drive and I can download a photo from Flickr that I have no other copy of, great, but I consider it my responsibility to keep my content stored somewhere safe.

  2. That’s why the two should be seperate. A storage site that doesn’t make files public is far less likely to ever draw attention unless there is an extraordinary amount of copyrighted material stored by the individual, and even then there’s probably going to have to be a “lead” somewhere else that brings attention to the storehouse.

    Just don’t store that second set of books on ;)

  3. Remember how much you are paying for the Youtube service, too. The storage services are in the business of protecting the data. Most of them charge a fee if you want enough to actually back up your stuff. Youtube, MySpace, et al are about protecting there tenuous business models.

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